Elaine May to direct new Dakota Johnson film

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Elaine May recently won the Tony Award for Best Actress as a dementia patient in Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery alongside Lucas Hedges, Michael Cera, as well as Joan Allen. (Image Courtesy: Vanity Fair).

At the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’s Governors Awards, Dakota Johnson told a journalist she would star in eighty-seven-year-old Elaine May’s upcoming project, Crackpot, according to Vanity Fair. Little is known about the film, but if May’s improv partnership with Mike Nichols, “Nichols and May,” is any indication, it is apt to be a comedy on par with her A New Leaf (1971) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972), though it could be a drama like Mikey and Nicky (1976). May hasn’t sat in the director’s chair since her fourth movie, Ishtar (1987), starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman.

“Harriet” consultant says movie is historically accurate

Kasi Lemmons’s Harriet (2019) was released Friday, and Kate Larson, the expert consulted for the film, says the fictionalized Harriet Tubman biopic is still a faithful retelling of the Maryland-born historical figure’s life, according to WBALTV. Larson, who has studied Tubman for the last twenty-five years, says she grew up a slave separated from much of her family, until running for freedom on the Underground Railroad with her brothers September 17, 1849, before they could be sold into the Deep South. Larson says she hopes the film will inspire audiences to visit the communities where Tubman became an American hero.

Lady Gaga will star in new Ridley Scott movie

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Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. (Image Courtesy: BBC News).

Lady Gaga was cast as convicted murderer Patrizia Reggiani in Sir Ridley Scott’s forthcoming film about the death of Maurizio Gucci, the grandson of the man who founded the Italian fashion house, according to BBC News. Reggiani was a socialite who had two children with Gucci before they divorced in 1985; though she served eighteen years in prison for ordering an assassin to execute her ex-husband outside his Milan office in 1995 as part of a Mafia-style hit, the “Black Widow” proclaims her innocence. Gaga was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award in Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born (2018).

Rachel Weisz cast as Elizabeth Taylor in new film

It was announced Monday that the forty-nine-year-old Academy Award-winning actress Rachel Weisz has been cast as Elizabeth Taylor in female directing team Bert & Bertie’s upcoming biopic, A Special Relationship, according to People. The film will explore the three-time Oscar winner’s HIV/AIDS activism, which began in the 1980s after she hired a gay man from the South named Roger Wall to be her personal assistant, and took her as far as lobbying for the cause in Washington, D.C., in 1986. Simon Beaufoy, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008), studied hours of interviews and conversations before writing the script, and See-Saw Films as well as trustees of the Elizabeth Taylor Estate/House of Taylor Trust are set to produce.

Honorary Academy Award recipient asks for female Oscar named “Anna”

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In a video tribute, Jodie Foster said Lina Wertmüller taught her women could be directors, too. (Image Courtesy: WTHR).

While accepting her honorary Oscar at the Academy’s Eleventh Annual Governors Awards, ninety-one-year-old Anna Wertmüller, the first female Best Director nominee for her Pasqualino Settebellezze (1975), called for a female Oscar named “Anna,” according to WTHR. Only five women have been up for Best Director in the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and two of them, Jane Campion as well as Greta Gerwig, were in attendance at the untelevised dinner event. Cherokee actor Wes Studi also became the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar last night, alongside the prolific David Lynch and Geena Davis.

“Knives Out” and “Marriage Story” to bookend this year’s Denver Film Festival

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The Denver Film Society says the 2018 festival sold $442,701 worth of tickets, compared to $401,000 in 2017; however, attendance dropped to 42,415 in 2018 from 46,912 in 2017. (Image Courtesy: The Know).

From October 30 to November 11, the Forty-Second Denver Film Festival will screen more than two hundred fifty features, documentaries, and shorts at the Sie FilmCenter, UA Pavilions, and the Ellie in between virtual-reality specials at the McNichols Building, according to The Know. Colorado native Rian Johnson, the filmmaker behind Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), will open the red carpet series with his ensemble murder mystery Knives Out (2019) on Halloween at the Ellie, and Noah Baumbach will close it with his Marriage Story (2019).  Denver Film Society anticipates the same turnout of young people as well as new residents as 2018, which was as successful as the year before that, when Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle came to town with La La Land (2016).

Jane Fonda accepts award during arrest in D.C. protest

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Jane Fonda and Ted Danson were taken into custody together Friday afternoon, and the week before, she was arrested alongside Sam Waterston, her costar on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie (2015-). (Image Courtesy: The New York Daily News).

As Jane Fonda was being handcuffed Friday in Washington for the third time in fourteen days as part of her demonstration of civil disobedience against climate change by getting arrested every week, she gave an acceptance speech to a nearby camera, according to the New York Daily News. She was due to receive the honorary Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Los Angeles later that night, the fifth actor to win it after Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, as well as Cate Blanchett. Fonda is a two-time BAFTA Best Actress, for Fred Zimmerman’s Julia (1977) and James Bridges’s The China Syndrome (1979), in addition to a two-time Academy-Award honoree (out of seven nominations), for Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971) and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home (1978).

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley movie has found its Priscilla

Australian actress Olivia DeJonge has been cast in the role of Elvis’s wife, Priscilla Presley, for the upcoming biopic from Baz Luhrmann about the King of Rock and Roll’s complicated twenty-year relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, according to Deadline. Austin Butler and Tom Hanks will play Presley and Parker, respectively, and DeJonge’s notable screen credits include M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit (2015), as well as Netflix’s The Society (2019-). Born in Brooklyn, Priscilla Ann Wagner was fourteen when she met a twenty-four-year-old Presley in 1959, before moving into Graceland in 1963, marrying him in 1967, and divorcing in 1973; she was the chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises, and they had a daughter together.

Short film series about immigration makes its way to Texas

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Executive Director of the Waco Immigrants Alliance Hope Mustakim says babies are being born prematurely to immigrant families due to the worry caused by federal and state policies; parents are less engaged with schools, and churches with Spanish-speaking congregants are seeing lower attendance.  (Image Courtesy: KWTX).

Stories Beyond Borders, a series of five short movies about immigrant families distributed through the national nonprofit Working Films, screened Tuesday night at the Hippodrome Theatre in Waco, Texas, with two hundred people signing up to attend, according to KWTX. Executive Director of the Waco Immigrants Alliance Hope Mustakim says the turnout was one of their all-time highest, as Texas’s SB4, which bans sanctuary cities, has stigmatized undocumented immigrants in the local community. The Pew Research Center estimates that more than ten million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, and two-thirds of the adults have been here for at least ten years.

Final trailer launched for J.J. Abrams’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)

After a string of teasers since filming began last year, the final trailer dropped Monday night for J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019), with tickets going on sale ahead of its December 20 release, according to The Guardian. The finale to the saga which began with George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) promises lightsaber battles atop sinking ships, characters jumping across jungle canyons, as well as plenty of tearful closeups. Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Mark Hamill, Ian McDiarmid, and Anthony Daniels all star, and the filmmaking team confirmed back in May that old footage of the late Carrie Fisher would be repurposed into the new movie.